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Bertan > Bertan 10 Gipuzkoako trenak > Ingeles bertsioa: The train in Gipuzkoa

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The train in Gipuzkoa

17. Tolosa station.
17. Tolosa station.

As is obvious from the previous table, the railway appeared in Gipuzkoa somewhat later than it did in other parts of Europe.

The first railway service in the province was established on 1 st September 1863, thirty-three years after the Liverpool-Manchester railway was opened and fifteen years after the Barcelona-Mataró line.

The first Carlist War, the political instability experienced during a large part of last century, and the lack of capital in Gipuzkoa, where the industrial revolution had not yet started, were some of the reasons for this delay. The difficult orography of our territory was an additional obstacle to the construction of railways on Gipuzkoa ground.

18. A 3rd class passenger carriage.
18. A 3rd class passenger carriage.

Nevertheless, this initial delay was soon compensated by the rapid development of new lines which eventually covered almost all of the province, in spite of the fact that the difficult Gipuzkoan orography wasn't exactly ideal for laying railway tracks. This is due to the fact that one of the great advantages of the railway in comparison to other means of transport, the scarce friction between the wheel and the steel track, turns into a disadvantage on climbing a hill, due to poor adherence. This is why railways cannot normally climb hills with a slope of more than 2%. Greater inclines mean that, instead of climbing, the train will simply slip.

In order to overcome the obstacles of nature, it was necessary to build large bridges and bore long tunnels, the most outstanding of which is that of Oazurza, between Brinkola and Zegama. This tunnel, with its 2.957 m. in length is still the longest in Gipuzkoa, in spite of the 130 years that have passed since it was made.

19. The Aurrera steam engine, constructed in 1898 and today still running in Euskotrenbideak's Basque Railway Museum.
19. The Aurrera steam engine, constructed in 1898 and today still running in Euskotrenbideak's Basque Railway Museum.

The conclusion of the Urola railway line in 1926 completed Gipuzkoa's railway map. More than 386 km. had been built in a little over sixty years, quite an impressive figure in a territory as small as ours. In fact, Gipuzkoa even came to have the densest railway network in the Spanish State, and its magnitude was comparable to the most highly developed European countries, such as Great Britain and Belgium.

Each Gipuzkoan valley had its own railway. The line running from Irún to Elizondo therefore ran through the Bidassoa valley. The Oiartzun valley was covered by the mining tracks of Arditurri and Artikutza, while the area closest to the estuary was covered by the Topo (suburban train) and the Northern railway. The Urumea was also covered by the Northern railway, a line which later served the middle banks of the Oria and head of the Urola rivers. The Plazaola line, on the other hand, never left the banks of the Leizarán river.

The lower basins of the Oria, Urola and Deva rivers were serviced by the nearby Ferrocarriles Vascongados (Basque Railways) lines, while the Urola line constantly changed from bank to bank, playing with the river that gave it its name. Lastly, the Vasco-Navarro Railway ran through Upper Deva.

20. A station clock.
20. A station clock.

Railways and valleys vertebrated the province, providing it with a truly enviable communications system, complemented by a dense network of city and intercity electric tramways that contributed to favouring the economic and social development of Gipuzkoa.

Most of these railways were constructed by private companies. It was initially capital of French origin which promoted the construction of the first railway in the province, but Gipuzkoan and Biscayan capitals soon took over.

Gipuzkoa County Council also actively participated in developing the province's railway network, granting important subsidies and even subscribing to shares in the several railway companies being constituted.

But the Council's role wasn't limited to backing private initiative. When lack of investment in the Vasco-Navarro and Urola lines threatened to incommunicate the areas they served, the County Council reacted swiftly, backing the state by means of lending it money against its allocation, in order to build the former line, so that it could then construct, and later exploit the latter itself. This, along with the Triano railway in Biscay, is the only case in the state where the County Council built and exploited a railway by itself.

21. Donostia, the Northern Train in 1863.
21. Donostia, the Northern Train in 1863.
22. A stationmaster's bugle.
22. A stationmaster's bugle.

•  Table nº 2

The development of European railway networks and their comparison with Gipuzkoan railways in 1926.
Herrialdea Km./Railway Surface Population Mts.Rail./Km2 Mts.Rail/Inhabitant/biz.
 Germany
63.760
540.500
64.926.000
118
0.98
 Belgium
8.814
29.500
7.426.000
291
0.98
 France
65.290
536.400
39.192.000
129
1.66
 England
37.717
316.600
45.360.000
119
0.83
 Italy
17.634
286.600
34.670.000
62
0.50
 Switzerland
4.873
41.400
3.753.000
117
1.28
 Spain
15.840
497.225
19.506.000
32
0.81
 Gipuzkoa
353
1.800
274.000
196
1.28

 

23. The International Bidassoa bridge in 1864.
23. The International Bidassoa bridge in 1864.
24. Zumaia station.
24. Zumaia station.

Note the high density of railways in the Spanish state, both with respect to Km of territory as well as to the number of inhabitants, which contrasts strongly with Gipuzkoa, only surpassed in Europe by Belgium in the first concept while in the second only France offers a higher value.

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